Mushers in Iditarod 40 began arriving in Nome on Tuesday evening. Since then, as of this posting, 35 mushers have crossed under the burled arch on Front Street in Nome and have completed the nearly 1,000 mile journey from Anchorage to Nome. There are still 18 mushers on the trail and they are slowly but surely arriving into town.
I’ll point you in the direction of Matthew Smith’s previous post for the low-down on what Iditarod is like at KNOM. In a nutshell, we cover Iditarod so closely that it exhilarates everyone who works here. It’s a unique chance to shake up routine and take on tasks that we don’t perform on a daily basis.
Our 24-hour coverage of the top 30 mushers concluded yesterday afternoon and we now return to our regular schedules, although once in a while the siren in town will sound, alerting us that another musher is completing their journey to Nome. Since I worked the night shift this year, I had the chance to watch multiple mushers come into town yesterday morning and afternoon. Although these individuals were finishing the race anywhere between positions 20 and 30, I recognize the uniqueness of having a dog team trot down the middle of Front Street in Nome, so I made sure to cheer in the teams.
One thing that surprises me about Iditarod is the lack of support for the mushers who aren’t finishing in the very top positions. A crowd of hundreds gathered at the burled arch to watch Dallas Seavey win Iditarod 40, and one hour later when Aliy Zirkle arrived, there was already a noticeable difference in the number of people around. Yesterday afternoon, watching mushers like Lance Mackey and Cim Smyth finish, there were only a few dozen people on Front Street. This worked out well for me since I was able to grab some prime pavement to view the finishes, but I sympathize with the people (and even the dogs) who just completed the Iditarod and couldn’t even get a crowd to support them. This is why I’m glad KNOM broadcasts the finishes of more than just the top 5 or 10.
One man who has made his way down to the burled arch to many finishes so far is Sebastian Schnuelle. This former musher has been staying with us at the volunteer house this year and his insight into the race has been fascinating. This year he did not follow the trail as a musher, but he reported on the race via a snowmachine.
Whether a musher is finishing in 1st or completing the race as the Red Lantern (last place), Iditarod makes Nome come alive for what would otherwise just be another random week in March.
We’ll reach 12 hours of daylight this weekend, the light certainly brings a new sort of energy to everyone in town.